Sunday, April 24, 2011

Tania Saleh: Superb Video Clip and New Album Available for Sale

Tania Saleh's superb new video clip "Wehde" was released to coincide with the Lebanese singer's new CD which is available for sale/downloading a at

For the lyrics in Arabic, please scroll down.

For more on Tania Saleh and her new album Wehde, please see

Lyrics to "Wehde" single:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

My April 21 Podcast of "Hi Keefak Ça Va" incl. Interview w/ Director Joshua Asen + Spotlight on "Fetish Systems"

Here is the link to my latest podcast (Thursday April 21) of "Hi keefak Ça Va?" (Episode 5) in case you feel like grooving to great Arabic/French/English beats.

In addition to the usual music mélange, this episode includes an interview with Joshua Asen, Co-Director of the film "I Love Hip Hop in Morocco," and audio readings (by Hamed Sinno and Rosette Elghossain from "Fetish Systems," a daring new book by Lebanese author Raafat Majzoub.

The show also includes a tribute to Helem and features a daring new song by Mashrou' Leila plus the usual music mixing and matching in Arabic/French/English

To listen/download the show (2 Parts), please click on the link below then click on the arrows on the bottom right of that page (right click to save):

If the link above doesn't work, click on the links below to listen:

Part ONE: Click HERE

Part TWO: Click HERE

also available at

Hi, Keefak, Ça Va? DJ: Ramzi S. Thurs, 21April 2011 1600 - 17:30



1. Charbel Rouhana/ Hi Keefak Ca Va/ Hi, Keefak, Ça Va?/ Forward Music
2. Fayrouz/ Habbaytak bil sayf/ The Very Best of Fairuz/ EMI
3. Jean-Francois Michel/ Coupable/ Jean Francois Michel/ JFM
4. Wust El Balad/ Qull Lil- Maliha (Tell The Maiden)/ Wust El Balad/ Melody Music
5. Hamed Sinno/ Audio Clip/ Fetish Systems by Raafat Majzoub/ +236m3
6. Rosette Elghossain/ Audio Clip/ Fetish Systems by Raafat Majzoub/ +236m3

7. Wael Kfoury/ Hekm el alb/ Best of Wael Kfoury/ Rotana
8. Les Boukakes/ Oummi/ Marra/ (No Label Information)
9. Interview with Director Joshua Asen (I Love Hip Hop in Morocco) and Professor H. Samy Alim of Stanford University.
10. MC Bigg/ Skizo/ I Love Hip Hop in Morocco/ Unreleased
11. Sala'h Eddine/ Hakma Willi/ I Love Hip Hop in Morocco/ Unreleased

12. Rima Khcheich/ Falak/ Falak/ Jazz in Motion Records
13. Mashrou' Leila/ Shim El Yasmine/ Mashrou' Leila/ B-Root Productions
14. Lena Chamamian/ Sariri Hovim Mernem/ Shamat/ NA
15. Elizabeth Ayoub/ Habibi/ Oceanos Y Lunas/ Four Quarters Entertainment

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wael Ghonim to Speak at Stanford University this Friday

Google Excec Turned Revolutionary Wael Ghonim will speak at Stanford University this Friday.  The event is presented by 
The Muslim Student Awareness Network (MSAN).

Wael Ghonim: On Revolution and The Future of Egypt
THIS Friday, April 22nd at 7:15 pm
Cubberley Auditorium, Stanford University (
followed by insights from Dr. Ossama Hassanein of TechWadi on initiatives to move Egypt forward

Founder of the Facebook group that first called for demonstrations on January 25, Wael Ghonim has become one of the leading voices of the Egyptian revolution. His emotional interview after twelve days of incarceration by the Mubarak regime revitalized the democratic movement. Come hear his story and perspective on the ongoing revolution and future of Egypt.

Want to read more about Wael Ghonim?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tania Saleh To Release New Album on April 21 in Beirut

Tania Saleh's long anticipated album Wehde is being released on April 21, 2011 at Kahwet Imm Nazih, Saifi Urban Gardens, on April 21, 2011 from 5 to 9 P.M.

If you are in Lebanon, do not miss this!!!!

Check out Tania Saleh's Facebook Page at

Podcast from My Latest "Hi Keefak Ça Va?" (Ep. 4) Radio Show Available!

The Podcast from my latest show "Hi Keefak Ça Va?" Episode 4 (which aired yesterday April 14) is available for free downloading! Go to this link then click on the arrows on the bottom right of the page to listen (right-click to save the MP3 file(s) to your computer). Thanks for your support!

If the link above doesn't work for you you can listen directly by clicking on the 2 link below:


PART 2 :

DJ Ramzi

Hi, Keefak, Ça Va? DJ: Ramzi S. Thurs, 14 April 2011 1600 - 1800

1. Fairuz/ El Bint El Shalabiyah/ Best of Fairuz/ EMI Arabia
2. Cake/ Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps/ Welcome to Woop Woop/ Universal Records
3. Ramy Ayach and Abeer Nehme/ Belaaks/ Belaaks/ Oreole Records
4. Maryam Saleh/ Wahdi/ Single/ Unreleased
5. Mashrou' Leila/ Fasateen/ Mashrou' Leila/ B-Root Productions
6. Rousan, Yazan And Autostrad/ Ya Salaam (Wow)/ Autostrad/ Planet Records
7. Abdel Halim Hafez/ Qariat El Finjan/ Qariat El Finjan/ EMI
8. Omar Offendum/ Finjan/ SyrianamericanA/ Cosher Ink, LLC
9. Hanin Y Son Cubano/ Ya habibi taala/ Ya habibi taala/ Hanin
10. Asmahan/ Ya habibi Taala/ Les Indispensbles/ Jasmine Music/ IODA

11. Kassis, Tania/ Ounchoudat Bayrout (Hymn Of Beirut)/ Oriental Colors/ Magnum Records International
12. Saleh, Tania/ Slow Down/ Wehde/ Tohme
13. Atlas, Natacha/ Ne Me Quitte Pas/ Ayeshteni/ Mantra/Beggers Banquet
14. Elissa/ Kermalak/ Al-Rawa'i (Greatest Hits)/ New Sound
15. Belyzel, Najoua/ Fille d'Orient ou d'Occident/ Au Feminin/ PID
16. Ziad El Ahmadie/ Organised Chaos/ Chaos/ Forward Music
17. Ayoub, Elizabeth/ Ya Oud/ Oceanos Y Lunas/ Four Quarters Entertainment
18. Hani Mitwasi/ TOZ lak wala 3ala bali/ Single/ Unreleased
19. Rami Ayash/ Ya Msahar Eyny/ Hizzy: Hips in the Mix/ Level Up Records
20. Assi Hallani/ Oddam Eyoonek/ Hizzy: Hips in the Mix/ Level Up Records
21. Fares Karam/ El Tanoura/ Hizzy: Hips in the Mix/ Level Up Records

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ahmad Abdalla's "Microphone" Screens in San Francisco on April 22, 24, 27

Ahmad Abdalla’s "Microphone" is screening as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival on April 22, 24, 27. For info, tickets:


Ahmad Abdalla’s thrilling second feature is a tribute to Egyptian underground art, especially music, but also graffiti, independent film and really any kind of creative expression. It’s both a love and hate letter to Alexandria and its thriving youth movement. The film follows a number of local scenesters but focuses mainly on Khaled, an engineer recently back in Alexandria after several years in America. He’s finding the transition tough: His former girlfriend has moved on and his job can’t keep his interest. He is a music fan, however, and his dream of putting on a concert leads him to a world of DIY musicians, artists and filmmakers. This crew provides the film’s backbone—and soundtrack. Great music courses through from the opening credits—mainly hip-hop but also metal, pop and other genres. Meanwhile, there’s a constant tension between the artists and the state. Each band vies for government funding and a spot on a government-sponsored showcase, but each is told their music is too obscene or too critical of the state. It’s impossible not to watch all this in the context of post-Mubarak Egypt, and while this film was made well before recent events (and is very much an Alexandria story), the elements of a young people’s revolution are all here. They’re fed up, and frustration feeds their art. Abdalla interweaves elements of cinema verité, and the film feels like a potent slice of Alexandrian life in all its vibrancy and frustration.

—Benjamin Friedland

Fetish Systems: Book Signing by Raafat Majzoub & After-Party in Beirut

See for original article plus many more pics from the event.

Picture of Raafat Majzoub from Time Out Beirut.  All Rights Reserved. 
Beirut, Lebanon-- Raafat Majzoub, author of Fetish Systems, recently signed copies of his book at Zico House, Spears Street, Sanayeh - Beirut. The book signing was accompanied by live music, party and drinks.

Click here for my review of this groundbreaking book.

The best way to order this book is via this link.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Century-old Book of Khalid sheds light on Arab unrest

This article by Jane O'Brien just appeared on the BBC News website. To read the entire article, please go to

Century-old Book of Khalid sheds light on Arab unrest
By Jane O'Brien, BBC News, Washington
9 April 2011

Ameen Rihani met the kings and leaders of his day

On the 100th anniversary of The Book of Khalid, the first English-language novel written by an Arab, the work seems remarkably relevant to the popular uprisings sweeping the Middle East today.

The Book of Khalid was written by Ameen Rihani, a respected Arab-American intellectual who was born in Lebanon in 1876.

It is the story of two Lebanese friends who migrate to New York.

The hero, Khalid, begins his new life peddling religious trinkets.

He adopts a bohemian lifestyle, but comes to reject America's consumerism and returns to Lebanon to find spiritual satisfaction.

The book offers important insight into the complexity of Arab-American relations.'Uncanny connection'

"Rihani had this sense at the beginning of the 20th Century that both America and the Arab world were these great forces that would soon be unleashed and would determine future global politics," says Todd Fine, the director of Project Khalid, an effort to promote Rihani's work to a modern American audience.

"The Book of Khalid is about how American values could actually inspire revolution from the Ottoman Empire," says Mr Fine, who is editing a new edition of the book, due to be published at the end of the year.

"In fact the novel even ends with riots triggered by Khalid in Damascus. It is this uncanny connection that makes me believe that if we revisit the relationship between the US and the Arab world through Rihani and through The Book of Khalid we can realise that we don't have tremendous differences."'Bridging East and West'

Echoes of Rihani's stand against tyranny and human rights violations were evident in the protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square which led to the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak, says his nephew Ramzi Rihani.

"I think the message is about bridging East and West," he says. "This is why he resonates not only with the Arabs, but with the entire world."

Rihani believed he was uniquely positioned to bridge the two worlds and sought to do so through all his writings.

He immigrated to New York in 1888 at 11 years of age and grew up in Lower Manhattan, in a community known then as Little Syria, just blocks from where the World Trade Center would be built.

'Slingshot Hip Hop' Documentary Screens at Stanford University

(PALESTINE/U.S. | 2008 | 83′ min | DigiBeta, Betasp or HDCAM | Color | Arabic, English & Hebrew | Subtitles available in English, Arabic, French)

The documentary Slingshot Hip Hop screened at Stanford University on April 7, 2011 as part of part of the "Global Hip Hop Cultures" series that is organized by Professor H. Samy Alim through Stanford's Institute for Diversity in the Arts (IDA).  The documentary braids together the stories of young Palestinians living in Gaza, the West Bank and inside Israel as they discover Hip Hop and employ it as a tool to surmount divisions imposed by occupation and poverty. From internal checkpoints and Separation Walls to gender norms and generational differences, this is the story of young people crossing the borders that separate them.

In attendance was the film's Director Jackie Salloum who participated in an extensive Q&A session following the screening of her movie and answered dozens of questions by Stanford students and others (see exclusive video clips and photos below). She also autographed DVD copies of her film and offered for sale the soundtrack from the film--as well as CDs by Palestinian Hip Hop artists DAM and Abeer, both of whom who are featured in the movie (those items are all available for sale on the movie's web site at  Salloum is a New York based artist and filmmaker. Drawing on her Palestinian and Syrian roots, her pop-infused work focuses on challenging the stereotypes of Arabs in the media. She has directed several shorts exploring this issue, including Planet of the Arabs, which was an official selection in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. After receiving her MFA from New York University, Salloum began directing her first feature length documentary Slingshot Hip Hop. Five years in the making it made it’s premiere at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival-Documentary Competition. Salloum’s work is also the basis of a youth education program on Palestine, and she frequently speaks at universities and conferences internationally.  Please scroll down to see exclusive video clips from her Q &A session with Stanford students who attended her film's screening on April 11, 2011.

Here is the trailer for the movie followed by a list of awards taht the film has received.   Please scroll down below the list of awards to see exclusive video clips from Director Jackie Salloum's Q &A session with Stanford students who attended her film's screening on April 11, 2011.

SLINGSHOT HIP HOP recently won:

“Jury Prize” Festival Cinéma et Politique de Tours, Paris, France
“Silver Hanoman Prize” JAFF film festival, Indonesia
“Best Mediterranean Film” Granada Festival Cine del Sur, Spain
“Audience Award: Best Documentary” Cairo Refugee Film Festival, Egypt
“Audience Award: Best Film” Cairo Refugee Film Festival, Egypt
“Most Anticipated Film” Cairo Refugee Film Festival, Egypt
“Audience Award: Best Documentary“ Films de Femmes, France
“Audience Award: Best Film“ DOX BOX Film Festival, Syria
“Audience Award: Best Film“ Beirut International Film festival, Lebanon
“Best Director” Beirut International Film festival, Lebanon
“The Festival des Libertés Award” Festival des Libertés festival in Brussels, Belgium
“Audience Award: Best Film“ Arabian Sights Film Festival/Washington DCInternational Film Festival
“Audience Award: Best Film“ Toronto Palestine Film Festival
Top 3 Finalist for the IDFA- “DOC U” Competition
Nominated for the Sundance Film Festival 2008 – “Documentary Competition”


“Documentary Competition” Sundance Film Festival 2008
“Audience Award: Best Documentary“ Films de Femmes, France
“Audience Award: Best Film“ DOX BOX Film Festival, Syria
“Best Director” Beirut International Film festival, Lebanon
“Audience Award: Best Film“ Beirut International Film festival, Lebanon
“Jury Prize” Festival Cinéma et Politique de Tours, Paris, France
“Audience Award: Best Film“ Arabian Sights/Washington DC International Film Festival
“Silver Hanoman Prize” JAFF film festival, Indonesia
“Best Mediterranean Film” Granada Festival Cine del Sur, Spain
“Audience Award: Best Documentary” Cairo Refugee Film Festival, Egypt
“Audience Award: Best Film” Cairo Refugee Film Festival, Egypt
“Most Anticipated Film” Cairo Refugee Film Festival, Egypt
“Audience Award: Best Film“ Toronto Palestine Film Festival, Canada
“The Festival des Libertés Award” Festival des Libertés festival in Brussels, Belgium
“Aloha Accolade Winner” Honolulu Film Festival, Hawaii
Top 3 Finalist for the IDFA- “DOC U” Competition

Here are 3 exclusive video clips from Director Jackie Salloum's Q & A session at Stanford University on April 11, 2011. 


The film's Director Jackie Salloum at Stanford

Director Sackie Salloum with Professor H. Samy Alim

Q & A Session with Stanford students

Salloum talks about her documentary

'Scandalous' Song by Hani Mitwasi Gains Much Popularity اغنية هاني متسوي : طز لك ولا على بالي

Hani Mitwasi

Hani Mitwasi, whose latest album is filled with heartfelt songs that are worthy of his amazing vocals, has unofficially released a hilariously irreverent song (not included on the CD) about a man who leads his life the way he wants and without giving a hoot about what anyone says.
Here is a video of the uncensored version of the song followed by the lyrics in Arabic (along with my rough English translation) as well the transliterated Arabic lyrics (so you can sing along in Arabic even if you don't know what the words mean).
Finally, I have included a live version of the song in which the singer--but not his audience--glosses over the risqué verses while performing live in concert.

Click on the video screen below to listen to the song then slowly scroll down to follow the lyrics

The picture above looks explicit but it is only a guy wearing a painted towel

I am a bad guy and I don't give a hoot  أنا زلمه سيّء و غير مبالي
 That's how God made me وهيك الله خلق حالي
 I do whatever I want without asking anyone وبسوي إلي براسي طوالي ولا بسأل
 Screw it, that's how I am! طز لك ولا على بالي

They told me that happiness is a state of mind   قالولي السعاده حالة 
 That I should buy my clothes from second hand stores واشتري أواعيك من الباله
 That traveling abroad means irresponsibility وقالولي السفر هماله
 That sex is a debaucherous game والجنس لعبة سفاله
 I became debaucherous, irresponsible and I don't care صرت سافل وهامل وغير مبالي
 That's how God made me وهيك الله خلق حالي
 I do whatever I want without asking anyone وبسوي اللي براسي طوالي ولا بسأل
 Screw it, that how I am! طز لك ولا على بالي

My intentions are always bad وأنا نيتي دايما سوء
 I don't there's justice anywhere وبشك بعدل الفاروق
My sinning heart has a license in bad driving  قلبي دايما عم بيسوء ما عطوه رخصة سوء
I now market my honor and I don't care  صرت اسوق الشرف وغير مبالي
 That's how God made me وهيك الله خلق حالي
 I do whatever i want and I don't care وبسوي إلي براسي طوالي ولا بسأل
 Screw it! That's how I am طز لك ولا على بالي

 They said that whiskey was haram (forbidden by Islam) قالولي الويسكي حرام
 But without it, I cannot sleep بس أنا من غيرو ما بعرف أنام
 Let's not debate the issue سيبنا من كتر الكلام
 Let's leave such talk for under the sheets خلي الحكي تحت الحرام
 I became debaucherous, irresponsible, and I don't care صرت سافل وهامل وغير مبالي
 That's how God made me وهيك الله خلق حالي
 I do whatever I want and I don't ask anyone وبسوي اللي براسي طوالي ولا بسأل
 Screw it, that how I am! طز لك ولا على بالي


Ana Zalameh Sayye' O Ghair Mobali
o Haik Allah Khalag Hali
o Basawwi Elli Brasi Tawwalli Wala Bas'al
toz Lak Wala Ala Bali

alooli El Sa'adeh Haleh
weshtri Awa'eeki Men El Baleh X2
w Allooli El Safar Hamaleh
wel Jens Lo'ebet Safaleh

sert Safel, O Hamel O Gheir Mobali
o Haik Allah Khalag Hali
o Basawwi Elli Brasi Tawwalli Wala Bas'al
toz Lak Wala Ala Bali

wa Ana Neyti Dayman Sou'
wa Bashok B'adel El Faroo'a
albi Dayman 'am Besoo', Ma A'too Rokhset Soo'

sert Asoog El Sharaf, O Ghair Mobali
o Haik Allah Khalag Hali
o Basawwi Elli Brasi Tawwalli Wala Bas'al
toz Lak Wala Ala Bali

alooli El Whiskey Haram
bs Ana Men Gheiro Ma Ba'raf Anam (X2)
seebna Men Kotr El Kalam,
khalli El Haki Taht El Hram..

sert Safel, O Hamel O Ghair Mobali
o Haik Allah Khalag Hali
o Basawwi Elli Brasi Tawwalli Wala Bas'al
toz Lak Wala Ala Bali

In the video above, Hani Miwasi sings a censored version of the song in concert.  For the uncensored version scroll up to the video above in this blog entry.

"Three Veils" Movie Premiere at the Roxie in San Francisco

The movie Three Veils finished its initial bay area run by closing at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco on  April 10, 2011 to a sold out audience.  The screening, which was part of the San Francisco Women's Film Festival,  was followed by a Q & A session with the film's Director, Rolla Selbak, Producer Ahmad Zahra (Zahra Pictures), and actors Sheetal Sheth, Angela Zahra, and Garen Boyajian.

Superbly acted, written and executed, Three Veils is a poignant film that follows the stories of three young Middle-Eastern women living in the U.S, each with her own secret. As the three stories unfold, the lives of these three women intertwine as they each struggle to defy tradition and create their own realities.     My recommendation?  Don't miss this very daring, addictive and beautifully told story and run to the nearest theater in which it is screening; you won't regret it.  More on

Here is the film trailer, followed by exclusive pictures from the Q&A session that followed the San Francisco screening.  For a phone interview by Women's Radio with the film's director, Rolla Selbak, see!/8826.html


Left to right: Ahmad Zahra (Producer); Scarlett Shepard (San Francisco International Women's Film Festival); Rolla Selbak (Director); Garen Boyajian (Actor); Angela Zahra (Actress); Sheetal Sheth (Actress)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Lebanon's online hit Shankaboot wins Digital Emmy Award

I was interviewed in this article for The National by reporter Zoi Constatine (see last 3 paragraphs).

Lebanon's online hit Shankaboot wins Digital Emmy Award
Zoi Constantine

BEIRUT // When Katia Saleh was brainstorming for an interactive web series aimed at depicting life in Lebanon, she had a wish list of topics to explore.

As the Middle East's first web drama started to take shape in 2009, Ms Saleh, the producer, wanted to be able to tackle controversial issues, such as sexuality, corruption, drugs and violence against domestic workers.

"We wanted to target the internet-addicted youth in the Arab world in general and talk about things they've not seen anywhere else," she said.

Now, less than two years on, 600,000 views on YouTube and 22,000 Facebook fans later, the Shankaboot web series has grown into something far bigger than even the show's creators could have imagined.

On Monday night Shankaboot won an International Digital Emmy Award for best digital fiction programme , at an event in Cannes, France, beating web series from the Netherlands, the UK and Brazil.

Amin Dora, the director of Shankaboot, said yesterday: "It is so rewarding, especially because it's the first time Lebanon got such an award. It shows that all our efforts to do something different and tackle social subjects meant we were fighting for a good cause."

The Shankaboot story traces the exploits of Suleiman, a Lebanese teenager who struggles to overcome the difficulties of going through life without a family. The show follows the industrious character as he weaves across the bustling city on his moped - nicknamed Shankaboot - working as one of Beirut's ubiquitous delivery guys.

"Suleiman is from the streets," Mr Dora said. "He represents the young, working Lebanese generation, trying to improve their lives. Everyone can find something about Suleiman in themselves. He's a young, conscious Arab guy, who wants things to go the right way."

The concept for an interactive Lebanese web-series was first floated by the BBC World Service Trust, who started working on the idea with Ms Saleh and her Batoota Films production company in 2009. Ms Saleh said she wanted to create something different for viewers: an online series that focused on Lebanese life and human-rights issues common across the Arab world, and not on politics, religion or the country's civil war.

"We are talking about the impact of war - the war gave birth to these problems," she said shortly before leaving for Cannes, where she was on hand to accept the Emmy award. "The purpose was to ignite debate, not to preach."

The show depicts life in Lebanon, with all its complexity and contradictions. While the writers have tried to steer clear of overtly political or religious storylines, those are topics that are hard to avoid entirely. In one episode, when Suleiman is asked what religion he is, he replies simply: "I'm Shankabootee."

"We definitely encourage a secular and nonsectarian Lebanon," Ms Saleh said. "We want the audience to take away this side of the Arab world that is not shown in the mainstream. We are trying to raise awareness and raise up the level of Arab drama."

Episodes appear every Tuesday on YouTube, but Shankaboot has a life far beyond each seven-minute episode.

It is the show's online presence in social media such as Facebook and Twitter, as well its interactive website, that have generated much of the interest.

On the website, Arek Dakessian, the online content and community manager, posts videos of interviews with the characters. There is also a forum where viewers discuss the show and vote on which topics they would like to see covered. The "Shankactive" section allows fans to post their own work inspired by Shankaboot - a made-up word, chosen because it had a "certain ring" to it, according to Ms Saleh.

Last Saturday, the show's cast and crew were milling around a house on Monot Street in central Beirut, where scenes were being shot for the fifth season, which is due to be aired in the next couple of months.

Hasan Akil, with his head of curly, unkempt hair, was clearly identifiable among the group as the actor who plays Suleiman, the main character.

The 18-year-old had not acted before Shankaboot, but tried out after his father told him about an open audition. Mr Akil said his character represents "Arab youth".

"Those who are struggling to live and learn and be happy: Suleiman is a symbol of that," he said.

One of the topics that resonated most with Mr Akil was a storyline on the mistreatment of domestic workers in Lebanon.

"I want to see justice in the world. On many occasions I've seen domestic workers treated badly and I hate to see that," he said.

Ramzi Salti, a fan of the show and a professor of Arabic language and literature at Stanford University, has used the series as a teaching tool for his students.

"The point, of course, is that Shankaboot presents this ugly reality in a way that both jars and awakens the viewer to issues that are often left undiscussed," said Dr Salti, who was born in Lebanon. 

Monday, April 4, 2011


"Daw L Baladiyyi ' is the first single from the Lebanese band Adonis' first studio album, to be released in July 2011. Directed by Robert Cremona, written and composed by Anthony Khoury, recorded and mixed at Tunefork Recording Studios. Adonis is Joey Abou Jawdeh, William Bou Hamad, Patrick Dleptany, Nicola Hakim, Anthony Khoury & Fabio Khoury.

Adonis is a collaboration between six Lebanese musicians with a very diverse and eclectic baggage of musical influences.

The band got together in summer 2010, and has been ever since experimenting with language and music, composing and recording, in a constant search for an authentic sound that would highly appeal to the local popular culture, and yet maintain its artistic integrity and vision.

Anthony Khoury - piano & vocals
Joey Abou Jawdeh - guitars & backing vocals
Patrick Dleptany - drums
William Bou Hamad - bass guitar
Fabio Khoury - synths
Niccola Hakim - percussions

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Shankabooting at the Emmy’s: Lebanon’s web series could receive this year's International Digital Emmy Awards (Article by Aline Sara)

Watch all websodes of Shankaboot on YouTube at THIS LINK.

I was interviewed about the Shankaboot Web series by reporter Aline Sara for this piece which has just appeared in "Now Lebanon." Ramzi Salti

Last winter, when Ahmed Zaki became the 20,000th fan of the Shankaboot’s official Facebook page, the cast and crew of the Arab world’s first web series rewarded him with some “shankin” paraphernalia. “We sent him a few t-shirts and USBs,” said Arek Dakessian, who manages all things related to Shankaboot’s online social media. “We make it a point to not only respond to our fans, but to also entertain them.”Shankaboot Producer Katia Saleh told NOW Extra during a phone interview that this type of entertainment is exactly the reason why the BBC World Service Trust and Batoota Films landed a nomination for the category of Best Fiction Program at the sixth International Digital Emmy Awards, which is taking place in Cannes on Monday. Shakaboot will be competing against three other productions from the Netherlands, the UK and Brazil.

“The nomination is for the project [as a whole]. [Shankaboot is] about interaction, about the online platform and the community management we are doing,” said Saleh. “It is more than just a series.”
Indeed, a glimpse of Shankaboot’s Facebook page confirms the show is more than a story about a young delivery boy.

“I will upload pictures soon [showing] my prizes… Thanks again,” read a recent post by Zaki on the program’s Facebook wall. The Shankaboot team responded enthusiastically, wishing Zaki luck with grabbing the prize reserved for the 100,000th fan.

Without a doubt, interaction between Shankaboot and its fan base is at the core of what makes the year-old series a success. “This whole online community management thing is a trend […] It’s all about getting in touch with fans,” Dakessian explained. Though the technology of online social media is already well-developed in Western societies, “Shankaboot might very well be setting the standard at the regional level,” he added.

But since the Emmy’s are an international event, Shankaboot must offer something more.
Dakessian explained that Shankaboot’s attempts to reach out to fans online might help the production stand out. It goes beyond responding to fans, he said, emphasizing the importance of engaging with the program’s supporters. To do so, Shankaboot scriptwriters touch on Lebanon’s controversial social issues, such as women’s rights as well as the rights of domestic workers. This added a new dimension to the web series. “People want to talk about these issues and need an outlet… So we encourage them to share their experiences [on our platform].”

In fact, a quintessential part of the project is the sections on the Shakaboot website dubbed “Shankactive,” where fans are welcome to post their Shankaboot-inspired multimedia ventures, and “Shankabotees,” which invites bloggers to share their posts that address themes similar to those shown on the program.

This encouraged blogger Anas al-Salah to share his caricature of children pretending to shoot guns under the title “[It’s] better without guns,” at a time when Shankaboot was addressing the topic of arms. “It’s a nice way of breeding interaction,” Salah said, who was also keen on upping his readership.
But what might surprise many Arabic speakers is that the web series have carved itself a niche among foreigners wanting to learn the language.

Juliette Bussy-Virat, a French woman working in Lebanon, said she uses the webisodes to help practice her Arabic. “A friend recommended I use the show to help practice my spoken skills. I watch it regularly, because I find the dialogue is clear and concise.”

In fact, using the series for learning purposes has gone transnational, with one Lebanese-American professor at California's prestigious Stanford University basing his lectures on the program.
“In teaching my courses, I always make sure to bring in a cultural element, [especially for] colloquial Arabic,” said Ramzi Salti, who has lectured in Arabic Language and Literature for over 12 years.

“I stumbled onto Shankaboot and was extremely impressed […] The story line is exciting, the acting is amazing, and most importantly, every webisode comes with English subtitles. My students at Stanford simply love the program,” added the professor.

“Loads of our fans are actually Lebanese [living abroad] who miss Lebanon,” confirmed Dakessian. “[The story is] about everyday problems… and I think that ideally, that’s what the Emmy people are interested in.”

According to Shankaboot Producer Saleh, viewership extends to the US, France and Canada. But the largest number of viewers is in Lebanon followed by Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. This is particularly impressive considering Lebanon’s jurassic internet speed.

“It’s hard, but we manage,” Saleh admitted, “and we believe that if people want to follow us, they can still find the means to do it if they really, really love us.”

With more than 600,000 views of Shankaboot’s YouTube episodes, 23,000 Facebook fans and over 2,000 followers on Twitter, it is safe to say that the web series is rather well received.

Shankaboot has already taken home the award for the Best Web Series at Geneva’s 2010 Cinema Tout Ecrans Festival. Monday might very well be the next milestone for the flourishing project “from the streets of Beirut.”

Watch all websodes of Shankaboot on YouTube at THIS LINK.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Beirut Duty Free Rocks Airport with Dabke Dance

Whilst the idea of a flash mob isn't a new thing, a Dabke / Hip-Hop flash mob in Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport (Beirut Duty Free) at a time when the region is in flux is certainly a first.

On March 5th, 2011, passengers experienced something a little different. A flash mob performed a mix of Dabke and hip-hop to entertain and delight passengers and airport staff alike.

M&C Saatchi and Beirut Duty Free, created this vibrant event as part of their "Take Back More." campaign. The aim was to literally create a wonderful memory of Lebanon that passengers could take with them on their journey.

10th Anniversary of Dr. Ramzi Salti's Arabology Program Features All Episodes on Soundcloud + YouTube (Click here)

All 13 seasons of Dr. Ramzi Salti's  Arabology  podcasts  are now available on Soundcloud, for a total of 101 episodes. Additionally, al...